How to Enroll in the Best Plumbing Course near Tuscaloosa Alabama
The first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Tuscaloosa AL. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are a number of factors to consider. For example, many potential students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their residence. After they have located several that are within commuting range, they will select the one with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are important, they are not the sole factors that need to be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should help mold your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumbing trade school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are offered.
What is a Plumber?
Almost everyone at one time or another has needed the services of a professional plumber. It may have been due to a leaky faucet or perhaps a hot water heater needed to be replaced. Plumbers provide a valuable service for the maintenance of both commercial and residential buildings. They are skilled tradesmen who are trained in the installation, repair and replacement of plumbing systems. These systems include pipes, plumbing fixtures, water based heating and cooling, sewage removal and sprinklers. A local Tuscaloosa AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.
- Apprentice. The majority of Tuscaloosa AL plumbers begin their careers as an Apprentice. Apprenticeships are often completed in tandem with a formalized plumbing training program. Apprentices are typically paid but unlicensed and work under the guidance of a licensed plumber during working hours and attend plumber training classes at night. The second phase of their career begins once the apprenticeship and the training program have been completed.
- Journeyman Plumber. Once the apprenticeship has been completed as well as any required training program, application for Journeyman Plumber licensing can be made. Most often licensing is controlled by the state but can be managed more locally at the county or city level. A Journeyman license will only be issued after all requirements have been met, including a passing score on the licensing exam. Even though a Journeyman is more knowledgeable and experienced than an Apprentice, they generally must continue to be supervised, in this case by a Master Plumber.
- Master Plumber. After attaining the necessary work experience and completing any additional educational requirements, the Journeyman can apply to become a Master Plumber. Once again a passing score must be achieved on the licensing exam before a license will be issued. There are several benefits to advancing to the Master Plumber level, including earnings at the highest pay level, unsupervised working conditions, and the ability to start and own a business. Master Plumbers may also hire and supervise both Journeymen and Apprentices.
As a technical field requiring a high level of skill and competence, plumbing can take years of both training and experience to master. As a consequence, the best opportunity for success for a new Apprentice in Tuscaloosa AL is to enroll in a plumbing technology program that will provide the comprehensive quality training needed to embark on this challenging career.
Plumbing Degree and Certificate ProgramsThere are several educational options available near Tuscaloosa AL to receive the necessary training to begin your career as a plumber. As far as the schools offering programs, you can enroll in a trade, technical or vocational school as well as a local community college. The programs offered will vary, but in general the shortest is the certificate program which will focus on the fundamentals and generally take about a year to complete. An Associate Degree will take 2 years to complete and will provide a more comprehensive education. There are some colleges that do offer a Bachelor Degree in plumbing technology, which are 4 year programs and much broader in nature. When choosing a school and program, naturally the completion time and the cost will be important factors. Tuition can vary significantly among the various schools and colleges and for some private schools can be quite expensive. State schools and community colleges typically offer their programs at the lower end of the tuition scale. However, when making your comparisons, keep in mind that many schools offer financial aid and even scholarships to help offset some of the financial burden. So be sure to find out what is available for each school and program before making your final decision.
Things to Ask Plumbing Vocational Schools
When you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to refine your training options. Because there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Tuscaloosa AL area, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The first 2 that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are additional factors that must be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to research prior to selecting a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing vocational schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Verify that the Tuscaloosa AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is usually controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education. If you don’t know, ask the school which state agency is responsible for its licensing and then verify that it’s up to date.
How Long has the School been in Business? Another means of determining the quality of a technical school is to find out how long it’s been in business. The longer a school has been in operation, the more likely that its programs are highly rated and regarded. Conversely, schools that are not well regarded or that provide low quality training generally don’t stand the test of time. However, keep in mind that even the best of Tuscaloosa AL schools had to start from their first day of operation, so only use it as one of several qualifications for each school you are considering.
What are the School’s Completion and Placement Rates? Ask the plumbing training programs you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Tuscaloosa AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Tuscaloosa AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Tuscaloosa AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Tuscaloosa AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Tuscaloosa AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, check that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Tuscaloosa Plumbing Vocational School
Choosing the ideal plumbing trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the training programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any plumbing training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Tuscaloosa AL.